Trusting Yourself

Trust

“Trust Yourself. You Know More Than You Think You Do”
~Benjamin Spock

The last blog post I wrote about running, it was going great!  I had been following my marathon training plan to the T, and had been able to run 5 miles fast, a hard run, below marathon pacing.  After I wrote that blog post, what has always happened before, happened. I got hurt.

It was my right Achilles tendon.  I have never had a problem with my Achilles.  But a few days after that intense run, it ached to where it hurt to walk, let alone run.

I was going to Seattle in a few days on vacation, and decided to just let it rest and heal.  But my mind was turning.

Every time I get hurt running, it’s because I push it too much.  I even kind of know when I’m pushing it too much.  This time, I wanted it to be different.

I felt up to this point, I needed an “official marathon training plan.” It’s a long distance to run. It’s hard. If you are not conditioned right, and haven’t trained right, it’s likely you won’t be able to finish. I have high goals.  I don’t want to just finish- I want to excel.  So I have felt like I needed to get “serious” about an official plan.

It was going so well- up until it wasn’t.

I felt like my Achilles would heal up with some rest, but in the mean time, I’m losing time running, I really don’t have.  Or I don’t have if I follow the “official marathon training plan.” I started to allow myself to think, “what happens if I don’t follow it?”

My first thought: Fear. Scared I won’t finish. I’ll get so close, but won’t be trained properly, tire out, and not be able to finish the marathon.

After I analyzed that, I asked myself if I really thought that would happen.

Knowing me, I’d walk fast, just to finish it, if I was really too tired to keep running.  I thought about when I finished my first half marathon, just two days earlier I had been cleared by the doctor, coming off my broken elbow and surgery, to run. I thought surely I was going to have to walk some in that, and I never did, and finished 30 minutes faster than I had thought I would, barely even being able to run for months leading up to it.

That gave me some confidence.  As I started thinking about it, I narrowed it down to this:

Do I trust myself? Can I take the leap of faith, and ditch an “official marathon training plan” that is hurting me, is not optimal for me, and train myself for the marathon, trusting myself, who I am as a runner, my body, my strengths, and my limits?

I honestly couldn’t answer that for a few days.  I struggled.  It’s easy to follow a script on what you “are supposed to do.” If it doesn’t work, it was because the plan was flawed.

If I go on my own and fail, that is on me. No excuses, no out’s- it’s because I didn’t train enough and thought I knew enough but really didn’t.

On the other hand, I realized what good is it going to do if I can run according to an “official marathon training plan,” but am injured and can’t run because I’m too battered up? An Achilles today, a knee tomorrow, a hip next month.

One thing I could conclude is I do know me. I do know what my body tolerates. I know how to find a way to excel during races.  I don’t have to plummet my body in the weeks and months before.  I have given every race I’ve ever ran, all I have.  I don’t doubt that in me at all.  I am confident I can find a way to excel and push myself when I need to.

When I placed in the only race I’ve ever placed in, it was so hot and humid. It had rained right before the race. It was mid July, at 6 PM. And then the sun came out. This was in a competitive division too. I had trained in 100 degree heat, up hill for months to train for this race.  I had run in every condition known to man- except the one Colorado, rarely has, severe humidity.  This was the first time I was running where the air was so heavy, I could not breathe.

Half way through the race, I really could not breathe.  I had to stop and walk a few paces to catch my breath.  I thought, no way was I going to be “fast,” no one stops in an elite division race to walk.  I’m sure this was never in an  “official elite division race plan.”  Yet, I knew I had to, or else I would not finish. I trusted myself in that moment, in that race, to do what I needed to do.

Turns out I placed 2nd!  Even with walking a few paces. There were runners right behind me at the end- I sped up, because I could breathe.  I am sure I would not have finished as strong as I did, had I not walked a few paces. My instincts had been right on. I trusted myself, my body, and what I needed to do in that race. It is still something I’m still most proud of in my running- placing in an elite division.

I’ve thought about this for over a week, and as I was leaving Seattle, I had made my decision.

I’m trusting me.  I’m trusting after 7 years running, I know what kind of runner I am.  I need to train and run yes- but I can do that without hurting myself, sticking to a plan that my body isn’t tolerating.  I’m ditching the “official marathon training plan” and training myself.

I put some ideas together on how I can train smarter, and harder without risking injury.

First off, is to heal my Achilles.  I focused the majority of my training last week, doing what I did when I had a broken elbow. Riding stationary bike at the almost highest inclines for 5 and 10 miles. It keeps building my endurance without risking further Achilles injury.

Two weeks ago, when my Achilles was feeling better, I put it to the test and ran 3 miles.  It felt better, not perfect, but enough I knew I was on the right track.

A few days later, I ran 5 miles.  I had some calf pain associated with the tight Achilles.  I stopped for a few moments, and massaged my calves, easing out some tightness, and finished the run.

I was less than 2 minutes off from pace- less than two minutes slower than the run that had hurt me. I wasn’t even trying for time- I was just trying to see how my Achilles would hold up with some distance.  It was fine after the run, and feels better every day.

So I feel like I’m on track. I feel like I’ll be right where I need to be, when I need to be there.

I’m realizing the marathon training- it is more rigorous than just running.  But it’s teaching me what  I need to learn and to be prepared for.

I never imagined I’d have to learn at this point, it’s about trusting myself.  I couldn’t even post this post for a week, while I figured out what I needed to do.  I decided I can do this, and I believe in me.

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UPDATE:

Since I wrote this post, I was up to running 10 miles again, feeling like I was back on track, and not only was I going to make my goal in Las Vegas, but exceed it.  And then, this past Saturday, the unthinkable happened. It’s been very discouraging to me.   I am still processing and will write about this next week.

I’m fine long term- short term- I don’t know. I’m asking myself every day, “how much do I want this?”

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